Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chicken Wire Message Frame

Hello friends! For those of you who saw the new Facebook page for The Weathered Willow, you might have seen my status on Thursday about spending the previous day crafting with my grandma. We had so much fun and I feel so blessed to have gotten to spend the day with her. My grandma is an extremely crafty woman and I honestly think that I've inherited my creative spirit from growing up watching her paint, build, and create so many awesome things. Well, for those of you who were wondering what we were up to, this is what we made! "Chicken Wire Message Frames" is what I'm calling them, and I'm in love with how they turned out! :)

As you can see from the picture above, we actually ended up making 3 of these frames on Wednesday. And I won't lie to you... this took a long time and quite a bit of work. But it was worth it! They were actually shower gifts for 3 of my best friends from high school who are getting married this summer! The shower was today and they each received one as a gift. The little cards that say "LOVE" in the left corners were Target gift cards clipped to the chicken wire with cute little decorative clothespins that I embellished with different materials (more about those later) and I also printed out some vintage looking hearts that I found as free printables online and clipped those on as well to show how the frames can be used as message boards. I think they turned out to be really cute gifts and the girls really seemed to like them. Here's a picture of the beautiful brides-to-be with their gifts :)

From left to right: Hannah, Jess, and Martha :)
 Because I was enjoying being with my grandma so much, I kinda forgot to take process pictures again (I know, I'm a terrible blogger lol) but it's a pretty simple process so I'll just give you some step-by-step instructions if you're interesting in making one for yourself :)

First you will need a frame. I got mine at a thrift shop and paid $2 or less for each one. I'm going to warn you ahead of time that it's best if they are real wood. Two of the frames that I used for these projects were not real wood and I had a very difficult time stapling the chicken wire to them because the material was too hard. If you can't find real wood frames, other materials will work, it will just be more difficult and you will probably be sore the next day like I was from putting a little more muscle into the stapling part ;) 

You will also need paint to repaint the frames if you want them to be a different color than the original ones. I used two colors for each frame - a base color and top color. I used spray paint just because it's faster. Obviously you will need chicken wire as well. I got mine from Lowes in a fairly large roll for about $9. I believe that I bought the 1'' chicken wire but there is also a kind that has smaller hexagons if you are looking for smaller holes. You will also need a staple gun, sandpaper, and a wire cutter. 

The process is pretty self-explanatory, it's just rather time consuming so be prepared to spend a few hours on this project. Before I started painting, I sanded my frames down using sandpaper so that the paint would adhere better and then wiped them off so that they were smooth and free from any of the leftover wood dust. It's up to you what kind of painting process you want to use, but I wanted mine to have the shabby distressed look so I used a basecoat first so that it would show through after distressing. 

For those of you who are wondering, I used a white basecoat for the smaller grey frame and the blue frame, and a grey basecoat for the bigger greyish colored frame. After letting them dry completely, I spray painted the top coats on. The bigger grey frame actually has a white topcoat, but I ran out of paint after only a thin layer had been applied (oops) so it actually turned out to be a little bit of a lighter grey color. Not what I was going for, but it turned out looking fine. 

At this point, it's extremely important to let the frames dry completely. For me, this took about an hour. After they were dry, I was able to sand parts of the frames to give them that distressed look that I was going for. It's best to sand them down in places where there would be normal natural wear so that it looks like it has worn down over time. Edges and corners are the best places to focus on. 

Once they were all good and shabby, I hauled them inside to get down to business with the chicken wire and staple gun! And this is where it got a little crazy, right grandma? ;) That chicken wire is actually pretty nasty stuff! Because it comes in a roll, it's a little difficult to manipulate and to flatten against the frame. At this point, I was really glad to have an extra set of hands to help. I would suggest doing the same if you decide to tackle this project. 

You basically just line up the chicken wire pattern straight within the opening of the frame and use a staple gun to staple the wire to the edges of the frame. I used quite a few staples because I wanted to make sure that the wire laid flat within the frame and didn't bow from being stored in a roll for so long. Once it's all stapled, you use the wire cutters to cut down the extra wire hanging over the edges. I feel like I need a disclaimer here also: chicken wire is sharp once it's been cut, so be careful! My grandma was bleeding in a few places when we were done - sorry Gram! :( I think we decided that we're going to brainstorm how to do it next time without having to leave those sharp edges open on the back. Once it's hung on the wall, it's really not a big deal, but it's a little bit of a hazard until that point. That's all there is to it though! And you've got a finished Chicken Wire Message Frame!

Decorating the clothespins was another fun part so I'll quickly tell you how I made those as well. I just bought a regular package of clothespins and rounded up some things I had lying around in my crafting supplies to decorate them. I used an all-purpose craft tacky glue to attach strips of each material to the tops of the clothespins. The blue ones on the left are made using some braided trim from the fabric department at Hobby Lobby. The middle ones are strips of some cute lacy scrapbook paper from Michaels. The three top ones on the right are little bows that I made from jute, and the bottom right and furthest two bottom ones are cut up strips of burlap. In one of the pictures above you'll also see a clothespin with some blue diagonal stripes on it also and that one was made with a strip of washi-tape from Miachaels taped on top. I think they turned out pretty cute! And there are so many possibilities for these little guys - I love it! :)

And one more photo of the finished product...

I'm definitely going to have to make one of these for our house when I figure out what colors I want to use in our decor - I think it's the perfect little message board! I have also seen these same frames used to display hanging earrings on - I think that's a great idea also.

So what do you think? Do you like how they turned out? Have I inspired any of you to try making your own Chicken Wire Message Frames? Let me know if you make one - I'd love to see photos when you're finished! :)

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